SHU soup sale benefits Center for Courageous Kids

Hallie Gilbert and Dylan Everett, members of the physician assistant program at Seton Hill, pose for a picture during last semester’s soup sale. Photo courtesy of D.Everett.

“They are very good salespeople. They walked around the different offices asking people,” said Judy Underwood, administrative assistant of student engagement. “And who doesn’t like soup?”

Seton Hill University is holding a soup sale until Friday, Oct. 13 and all profits go to The Center for Courageous Kids (CCK). Dylan Everett and Hallie Gilbert started the soup sale last semester after both being inspired to help the CCK camp in Scottsville, Ky.

Over $1,000 was made last semester and over 140 people were sold soup. “Our goal was $1,000, and with that we could send a kid to camp,” Everett said.

“We started on Admin first floor and went to every office on campus and explained to people what we were doing,” said Gilbert, who is in her fifth year of the physician assistant (PA) program.

“Two summers ago I worked as a camp counselor for 10 weeks,” said Everett, who is in his first year of the PA program at SHU. “We wanted a way to give back, but we couldn’t go to camp because of school. So this is our way to give back.”

“I had volunteered for two weeks,” said Gilbert. “I applied and got the job the following summer.” She lived in Kentucky for three months.

“We are the leading supplier of summer counselors across the nation.” Around the camp are a couple universities, but according to Everett, “no one compares to the number of counselors we send. For the most part it’s PA students.”

In the summer of 2013, one student from the PA program attended the CCK camp. This grew to five students the summer after. In the summer of 2015, 10 students including Gilbert attended for the full summer and in 2016, 27 students including Everett attended for the full summer. The numbers are still being calculated for 2017, but the numbers are being projected higher than previous years. In 2018, the goal is to spread outside of the PA program and also include more SHU students.

“Seton Hill is actually the largest supplier of volunteers now out of any university in the country,” Gilbert said. “It’s crazy, we are eight hours away.”

“The camp is unique. They bring in kids with medical disabilities, whether it’s physical or mental, and they give them a summer camp that is completely directed towards their disabilities,” Everett said. The facility itself has been around since 2008.

“They are bringing kids from all over the Kentucky, Tennessee area,” Everett said. “They hit such a huge range of kids and they bring in kids in a five or six day span that all have the same diseases.”

According to Gilbert, each week was focused on a different illness. “One week was cancer, one week was muscular dystrophy and one week was kids with diabetes.” Other illness groups that CCK have served are asthma, cerebral palsy, heart or cardiovascular disease, blood disorders, osteogenesis imperfecta, sickle cell, transplants and many more.

“It was an amazing summer. We played games, we went horseback riding and fishing. These kids got to do things that were normal for a summer camp,” Gilbert said. “But for kids who are in a wheelchair, they maybe have never gotten to go kayaking before.” The CCK allows children to experience these activities.

According to Everett, the kids attending CCK camp see they are normal and get to interact with other children who are just like them.

Gilbert got involved with CCK as a freshman in the PA program. “There was a girl two years older than me in the program who was from Kentucky and she had volunteered,” she said. “She sent us an email saying it was a really great way to get health care hours.” Gilbert said that she wanted some friends for a road trip to go down there for the summer.

Shown above is the amount of children from different states and countries who have participated with the Center for Courageous Kids. Photo courtesy of D.Everett.

So why soup?

“The soup sale was actually Darren’s idea,” Gilbert said.

“We definitely wanted to do some type of fundraiser,” Everett said. He and Gilbert explained how they wanted something cold or something that could be kept cold and handed out. “We only put in 12 to 14 hours last semester just walking around, broadcasting it and letting everyone know,” he said.

Two to three hours were put in to make the soup and one day was needed to hand out the soup. Since the soup was preordered, they knew how much money they were going to make and how much it was going to cost them, so they had no deficit.

The students make it, refrigerate it for the night and hand it out the next morning. Since this is through the PA program, they have close to 200 students who are able to volunteer.

“Our original idea was to do a spaghetti dinner,” said Gilbert, who went with Everett to speak with Darren Achtzehn and asked him the steps to doing the dinner and what was involved. It was decided that a soup sale would be a better decision when it came down to time and organization.

According to Gilbert, the night of the soup making came up and with volunteers, the group made 67 gallons of soup in two hours.

“You know Darren, he makes it fun while you do it too,” Gilbert said.

“I think three doesn’t spread us too thin,” said Everett, who spoke about the varieties of soup and the options for expanding. “I think we might go to four, but that creates more time for us, which we don’t need to do.”

The soup options have changed this semester. “We had seafood bisque, which we kept the same, we had chicken noodle that we changed to wedding soup and cream of mushroom that we changed to vegetable,” Everett said. The two students said they are going to see how sales go this semester, and if they see more sales in one soup, they will trend toward it in the future.

“We are a little bit down from last time,” Everett said. The warm weather could be the cause of this since the last two weeks were reaching 80 degrees; soup isn’t on everyone’s minds for a meal to warm you up.

“The soup was awesome,” said Underwood, who published the event on OrgSync. “I got wedding soup this time.” She also said she is planning on buying again in the future.

According to Underwood, the sale seemed successful and it looked like the students were very busy with their volunteer work.

If you are interested in buying soup, email SHUSoupSale@gmail.com with your order. Payment can be made on any Thursday morning in the basement floor of Boyle. Any incoming freshman interested in the PA program should check out the information session Oct. 12.

Pickup will be Oct. 19 in the Greensburg room from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

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